- by Denise Dudley, Ph.D., SkillPath Co-founder
- February 21, 2012
You’re beginning a job search and feeling quite smug about the portfolio of technical skills you have to offer employers. After all, when it comes to your particular field—accounting, IT, graphic design or whatever area you’re in—you’ve got the degree, certifications and experience.
But don’t be surprised if employers aren’t lining up outside your door. With the slowdown of the economy, there are plenty of people with strong technical skills competing for the few jobs available. If you really want to stand out above the crowd and impress a potential employer, wow them with your interpersonal skills.
Interpersonal skills cover a lot of territory: Being considerate of others; coming in each day with a positive attitude; listening instead of doing all the talking; a willingness to cooperate; thinking before you speak; communicating your thoughts clearly; not whining.
In other words, being the kind of person others want to be around and work with.
These “people skills” are necessary throughout your career—from your first job all the way through your final day before retirement. In fact, human resources professionals estimate that more than 80% of people who fail at their jobs do so for one reason—they don’t relate well to other people.
The good news is that interpersonal skills can be learned and continually improved. But how?
Here are some tips for getting started:
- Seek out training—one of the best and fastest ways to build your skills. Your employer may be more than happy to invest in a seminar or course that would make you more effective on the job right away. Just ask.
- Practice. Spend time interacting with others and figuring out how to connect with them.
- Ask for feedback from someone you trust. You get a different perspective on your behaviors and how you come across to other people.
- Study socially adept people and model their behavior
Improving your communication skills is one thing you can do for yourself that’ll pay off in big ways both personally and professionally.